Welcome to my blog - it's like a diary only better. This is my soapbox containing a collection of my thoughts and the experiences of my life raising twins.

Prior to this blog, prior to marriage and prior to the twinsanity that I now call my life, life was quite different for me. When you visit this blog, you won’t find me writing much about my life pre-twins – I hope that’s okay. Why? You ask. Because life with twins changes everything and my life pre-multiples is now just a dizzy, distant memory. And while it’s true that life years ago may have been a little more glamorous, the life I live now is a whole lot more rewarding and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

I’m glad you’ve stopped by...there’s a really strong chance that I won’t offer anything extraordinary here, but by the same token there is also the possibility that you will experience a taste of the adventures, challenges and many joys that come with my life with twins. Hopefully that will be enough to bring you back here again.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Not Your Typical Kid's Bike, That's For Sure

Warmer weather is now upon us. I have wanted to get the twins their own bikes/tricycles for a while now, however, what I do for one I must do for the other and with the unique circumstances of our daughter Taylor and her cerebral palsy, we have held off on getting bikes for the twins because Taylor simply would have been unable to negotiate the bike/tricycle UNTIL NOW!!! And, again, with twins, it's just not fair for one to have a bike but not the other so we waited...

There are certain decisions that we make in coordination with Taylor's physical therapist based on Taylor's physical readiness, motor development and strength...one such decision was when to buy Taylor a bike. While many tots already have bikes/tricycles by 2 years of age, we have postponed that purchase in our home to a later timeframe, to a timeframe that made sense.

Taylor has worked very hard the last couple of years and we've seen remarkable improvements in Taylor's motor skills and overall strength in her legs and as a result Taylor's physical therapist is now recommending introducing a bike to Taylor. YAY! At last, Taylor is physically ready for bikes!

The bike which the physical therapist is recommending for Taylor is manufactured by AmTryke and it is NOT your ordinary tricycle/bike. In fact, it averages around $300.00 - I know, who would've thought we'd be investing in a child's bike/tricycle that costs $300.00 when that child is only 3 years old?! I certainly never would've envisioned that my child's very first bike would cost that much! I grew up riding bikes that weren't even in that ballpark, especially my first bike. I'm pretty sure my parents just grabbed a tricycle/bike off the shelf at the local toy store or mass retailer like Toys R' Us, Target, Walmart, etc. when I was a kid. And, I can assure you, my parents didn't spend $300.00 on my very first bike. But, it's a bike that is most suited for Taylor and her disability and that's what is important. It's a bike, with therapeutic benefits to the rider, and it was actually inspired and designed by teams of physical therapists.

So, what's so exceptional about this bike, well other than the $300.00 price tag? For starters, it has rotating handle bars which are attached to the same chain drives as the foot pedals allowing the child to exercise both the arms and the legs simultaneously or alternatively depending on which motor skills need the most development and coordination - something which is important in children with cerebral palsy. It also comes with a wider wheel base and a tight turning radius so that the child is more secure when riding because this type of bike provides a lot of stability.

While this is going to be an expensive purchase for us, we look at it as a real investment in Taylor's overall motor development and in her future progress. We are continually trying to help Taylor overcome her coordination challenges and balance problems and riding a bike brings so much skill and coordination (not to mention joy and happiness) to every child that we just don't want to miss out on an opportunity to give Taylor the same opportunities as every other child on the block. Taylor's therapist has even seen some children much like Taylor, who can't ride a regular child's bike or tricycle due to their cerebral palsy, make such progress with the AmTryke bike that many of these same children have not only progressed to eventually riding a regular bicycle but also to eventually walking with less assistive devices (without leg braces).

Hopefully, over the coming weeks, we'll be able to save up the money (a little at a time) to purchase this bike for Taylor. Once we have, we'll not only be purchasing a bike for Taylor but we'll then finally purchase a bike for Paige too...believe me though, the bike for Paige will not cost NEARLY AS MUCH! And, of course, it isn't because we love Paige any less, it's just that Paige's bike doesn't need to have quite the same bells and whistles or functionality.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Must Love Dirt, Sticky Fingers, Great Outdoors

We've been waiting a long time for this moment. Our first camping adventure with Paige and Taylor...and, it was so easy and such fun! Okay, so it wasn't the kind of camping where you pitch a tent in the middle of nowhere, but it was the kind of camping that affords little toddlers the experience of the great outdoors and some of the roughin' it that does come with camping.

Ah, Manchester Beach in Mendocino County.... it is really a lovely place. I highly recommend a camping vacation there. It is very nice - quiet, pretty, safe, clean - that's why we loved it when it was just Mike and me and that's why we loved it this time with Paige and Taylor. We stayed in a rustic little cabin with the only amenities consisting of a locking front door and a lovely little front porch swing - truly perfect!

The smiling faces of toddlers discovering cabins, kindling for the fire, as well as the dirt and sticky fingers that comes with making s'mores for the first time was such a wonderful family experience. I was sooooo pleased and thrilled - okay, smug even - about our perfect little campers Paige and Taylor.

A few pictures are shown below capturing the essence of our overnight camping trip, with more pictures featured above in the rotating slide show.

Swinging on the cabin's porch...Mike, Taylor, Ashley, Paige.

Paige and Taylor exploring the cabin's front porch.

The twins roasting their first marshmallows for s'mores.

Mike lends a helping hand with marshmallows. Yummy!

Walking along the pier at Mendocino's Manchester Beach.

What camping experience is complete without a kiss, dirty face and all?!

Now, aside from just the fun of the camping experience with Paige and Taylor, it was a much-needed getaway for Mike and me too. My husband is so awesome - he's a wonderful provider for his family but too often his work keeps him very, very busy either at the office or on travel - so, it was great to just have the four of us together as a family! I often joke with my friends that "Mike and I are like ships passing in the night" because we just don't get to spend as much time together as a family as we used to; and well communication, what's that? Ha, ha, ha. If we communicate, somedays it's mostly via email and/or FaceBook with a scattering of exchanged voice mails in between. I keep a pretty busy schedule running the twins all over town each week and well, my husband maintains a very busy demanding schedule as well with his job so we're lucky to cross paths every now and then hence the 'ships in the night' analogy. Ha, ha, ha. So, like I said, it was really awesome having this time together as a family this weekend.

Now, we're back and ironically enough, when I connected to my computer this evening, lo and behold, my email inboxes - between my Yahoo and my FaceBook email accounts - were ridiculously full. Plus, messages on cell phone. (How does that happen I thought to myself...I've only been gone 24 hours?) Well, I suppose it's good to be missed by friends!

As I type this post to the blog tonight, Mike is sitting next to me at this moment, marking off his golf balls in preparation for his golf game tomorrow with "the boys" and I am so happy for him to be playing with his buddies tomorrow...as hard as Mike works, he deserves a good, fun break with "the boys" whenever he gets the opportunity!!!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Little Campers

It's Friday morning and we're loading up the car for our weekend camping trip to Mendocino. The twins have their very own bona-fide tent which makes them pretty excited as you can see. The twins are also wearing some very cute new t-shirts...a gift from their Aunt KC who recently traveled to Europe with Paige and Taylor's momo and poppa...the twins call their new pink t-shirts their "camping girl" shirts. Oh, the imaginations of a 3 year old. I suppose because camping is a new experience for them and the t-shirts are new, somehow our 3 year olds just concluded that one must follow the other hence Paige and Taylor are wearing their "camping girl" t-shirts to go camping. Too cute!

More pictures to post after we return...be sure to check back to Twinsanity next week.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Brief Venting

Just a short post today...a little venting...petty people.

Sheesh!!!!!! I am ever fascinated by petty people. Who has the time, energy or inclination to want to get wrapped up in pettiness? Petty people just have a way of ruining one's day, don't they? It's as if no matter what you do, what you don't do, what you say, what you don't say, there are people who will judge you, critique you. Again, I say sheesh!!!!!!

Well, today, I am summoning, from deep within me, compassion. Compassion for petty people.

Okay, that's it. Venting over. Now, I am anticipating a better weekend ahead - going camping to Mendocino with the twins and Mike and will be leaving all manner and persons of pettiness behind. (Exhale.........ahhhh, letting go..........out with the negativity.........)

I will be back on Monday, most likely with new pictures to post from our weekend in Mendocino. This will be the twins' first camping experience...the bugs, the campfires, the tents, the dirt, the 'roughing it'...it will be a memorable camping experience for sure!

Have a great weekend to all!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Examine & Re-Examine

It's hard to believe how much I've learned about a subject that I would have NEVER imagined I'd have to learn. That subject - cerebral palsy - and its ever-evolving, changing nature in my own child.

Vision problems are pretty common in children with cerebral palsy with a number of different manifestations for how these vision problems can present themselves in children including farsightedness, nearsightedness, strabismus and a whole host of other visual impairments. Nearly one year ago, I had Taylor's eyes tested for the condition of strabismus because I'd observed an occasional crossing of her eyes...the incidence of her eyes crossing only lasted for a couple of weeks and then went away and we haven't seen a crossing of her eyes since those first few observations. Her eye exam for the presence of strabismus last year also checked out just fine.

Well, in recent weeks, I have begun to observe what I would describe as a lack of depth perception in Taylor's vision. For example, navigating up/down curbs or maneuvering around objects on the floor at her feet appear to go unnoticed by Taylor which occassionally leads to her tripping or stumbling over things because it's like she doesn't even see them and shows little awareness of objects that reside below her direct line of sight. I talked to a couple of Taylor's therapists/doctors - her neurologist as well as her physical therapist and occupational therapist - and they validated some of my recent concerns with Taylor's vision. They agreed that it is probably a good idea to have Taylor's eyes re-examined to either verify or rule out any emerging or changing vision conditions because there is some evidence that both hearing and/or vision in children with cerebral palsy can become worse with age.

Taylor's neurologist described it in this way:

Children with cerebral palsy will often develop problems with visual concentration over time. Many of the children with Taylor's type of cerebral palsy have to expend so much energy and concentration on keeping their body upright, controlling their movements and coordination, etc. that they will often have little left over to use for visual tasks. For example, asking some children with cerebral palsy to hold their body in good alignment, look at a toy and then reach for that toy, might be like asking you to read "War and Peace" while putting a bicycle together while also serving your friends and family high tea. Now, I realize that's a pretty colorful, imaginative analogy, but basically, as the neurologist described it, we are asking the child to do too much at one time - coordinate and control their impaired motor movements while also visually focusing upon other tasks. They're things that "typical, normal" children and adults take for granted, but children with cerebral palsy have to exert far more effort and energy to achieve the same abilities.

So, I have scheduled an appointment for Taylor's eyes to be re-examined. I only wish that we could get her in right away...unfortunately, so many of the pediatric specialists Taylor sees always have VERY, VERY, VERY booked schedules and our earliest opportunity to get Taylor in for an eye exam is early June. Bummer.

Oh, speaking of specialists that Taylor sees, that reminds me...we have another orthopaedic surgeon appointment for Taylor in about two weeks. This appointment will give us an opportunity to meet with the surgeon and discuss any changes to Taylor's overall bone/hip structures and strategize on any new plans of action for therapy, surgery or otherwise.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Come Again...She Weighs What????

We had our standard 3-month check-up with Paige's GI doctor last week; and nothing...nothing...could have prepared me for the news we got from Paige's GI doctor!

Wait for it.....

Paige. Weighs. In. The. 5th. Percentile.

This is just mind blowing to me. After all the work, after all the supplements, after all the fortifying her every bite with extra clinically engineered calories, after all the appetite stimulants, after all the regimens of daily nutritional programs to follow for the past 3 years. The 5th percentile! WOW!!!! It's like all of a sudden black is white, up is down, I'm a Liberal all of a sudden and my husband likes disco and ballet. It's something I just never thought would happen. I mean, holy cow, the 5th percentile!

When the twins were born Paige was 3lbs 0oz and Taylor was 4lbs 8oz. When you're that little, it's amazing what a big difference 1 pound and 8 ounces makes between two babies. Paige has always seemed so much smaller, so tiny. Our little baby bird and our poky little puppy is what her daddy and I have affectionately called her through the years. And interestingly enough, for the last 3+ years, the twins have consistently stayed about 2 pounds apart, just as they were from birth, though as both girls have gotten bigger, their weight difference of 2 pounds has become less and less noticeable, the 2 pound spread between them has remained.

Anyways, back to the GI doctor appointment, I was in such disbelief when the doctor told me Paige has now broken into the 5th percentile for her height/weight ratio. I almost made the doctor take the scale back out and weigh her again...ha, ha, ha.

So, our little baby bird, our poky little puppy is still little, but not as little anymore. In my head, she's still my tiny baby who doesn't like to eat. And, it's true, she still doesn't eat as much as Taylor - but she LOVES her half-n-half, super fatty milk. And, she loves pasta (cheese pizza and spaghetti) so I give her as much as she wants because she's my 'tiny' one. In fact, one week, we had spaghetti every single night for dinner just for Paige and she loved it each and every night even though I think the rest of us were getting pretty burnt-out on spaghetti after 5 days straight....

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Playdate at The Park with Friends

Today, the twins and I met a good friend of mine and her little girl for a playdate in the park. I always look forward to getting together with friends, especially when my friends have little tykes for Paige and Taylor to play with...it's like a double bonus. Bonus for me to have adult conversation and to catch up on life and ol' times. Bonus for the twins to have time to play with other little people just like them!


Taylor and Samantha





Taylor, Paige, Samantha

Taylor, Samantha, Paige



Paige, Taylor, Samantha

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Reflections on Today's Nationwide Tea Party

Us, before we leave for the Tea Party, with a couple of our signs.

Future capitalists.

My family, along with some good friends, attended the rally of a couple thousand in California's state capitol. It was a beautiful sunny day. People took the day off work, many brought their entire families - from the smallest of children to the eldest of grandparents - to unite in support of a simple message of peaceful protest against massive government growth, increased taxation as well as the continued efforts of our government to run more and more of our lives.

Now, depending on which media source you get your news and information from, you will either here that this day represented the beginning of a new populist movement. Or, you will hear that this movement is nothing more than a few angry taxpayers and as such these media sources will certainly dismiss today's rallies along with the electrifying energy and spirit of the events and the Americans who participated in the rallies today.

For me, it was a family-friendly rally. There were no broken windows. There were no riots. Nobody was taking their clothes off. Nobody was making out in front of my kids. Nobody was complaining about a war or lifestyle choice that some approve of and other's disapprove of. There were just a lot of nice and respectful ladies, gentlemen, families, and children of all backgrounds and walks of life proudly wearing red, white and blue. I also loved seeing the American flag in the hands of so many people today who know how to use it and who respect it. They waved the flag with purpose and pride - with gusto even! Today was a good day.

Will our government respond to the messages of today's symbolic, nationwide Tea Party? Who knows. Time will tell.

In the meantime, here are a few photos which we took today:

A view, about 50 rows of people back, from the steps of the Capitol.

Paige and Mommy

A friend and her daughter joined us for the rally today.

My friend and I pause from our sign-holding to pose for a photo opp.

More photo opps in front of the State Capitol steps.

Gracie, Taylor and Paige playing with a patriotic puppy at the rally.

I will close the post tonight with a few of my friends' reactions to our family's participation in today's Tea Party rally (the comments shown below are pulled directly from my FaceBook account pages). No doubt, thousands of other Americans across the country who participated in today's rallies are enjoying much of the same and hearing a lot of similar sentiments. We should all feel great pride and take heart in what our symbolic protest and participation represented today. (For the purposes of privacy, I am only posting the first names of my friends who offered comments).

Ava: Hi Ashley, Love the Tea Party signs. You and the girls look great and sooo happy!!!

Karen: It is so great that you did this. I love the pics of the girls too. Great job Ashley, start them young!!

Brian: Very cool, Ashley!!!

Steve: Way to represent! My parents made it up there from the Bay Area. I'm going to catch it on the news --had to work. Love the "young Republicans" you brought!

Salena: You go, girl! I am trying to attend one in my neck of the woods too.

Brian: Great. This is just what we need...hope attendance is good!

Esther: Ashley, my granddaughter and hubby attended in Franklin, North Carolina...you should be able to see the pictures they posted by going to my FaceBook page and clicking on the one there I commented on.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Beached for A Day

The weather was truly fabulous in Northern California today so we decided to spend the day at one of the Pacific Coastal Highway beaches. A few pictures capturing the essence of the day shown below....